Noobie needs some insight about hand planes.

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Forum topic by riooso posted 02-28-2011 06:15 AM 1533 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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38 posts in 2613 days

02-28-2011 06:15 AM

A little history. I took wood shop in high school some….uhm! years ago!..... but it is amazing what I remember.
I, finally, have come to a place in my life where I have the time and the resources to get a modest shop going. I have been working with my hands most of my adult life and woodworking is just an extension of what I do for a living. This site is awesome but it is going to take me a vast amount of time to get through a lot of the information that is here.

I am building my long awaited work bench. I look at power tools as a simplier way to process lumber not necessarily finish it. I have started processing the hard rock maple that I have in my shop and it is the largest stock of lumber that I have ever worked with. The legs on my bench alone are 6” X 4” looking at the end and of course my 10” table saw will not come close to cutting in one pass. I will be making a 6’ X 2’ x 3” top for the bench.

On to the question. I know I need hand planes for the work that I am about to undertake. I just purchased a Lee Valley LA Jack plane and no extra irons. How far can I go with this setup? Can I come close to finishing the top of my bench? When funds permit if I get the trio of Veritas bevel up planes with extra irons will this serve most of my needs in the future?

Thanks in advance,

12 replies so far

View SouthpawCA's profile


270 posts in 3200 days

#1 posted 03-02-2011 08:51 PM

I also started with the Veritas bevel up jack plane with the provided 25 degree iron. You will go far with this setup. However, you definitely will want to do more. I added the 38 degree iron, and now the 50 that I put a camber on. The jack is the workhorse of my setup. However, I have since added the bevel up jointer and used the provided 25 degree iron in that setup to put a camber on – to eliminate plane tracks. The 50 degree iron on the jack makes an excellent smoother. And for shorter pieces of wood the jack will make an excellent jointer. I also have the toothed iron that I use as a scrub plane on my jack of course. Finally an apron or bench will do for quick fixes and other touch ups.

So, you are doing good. You will want to add irons in the future (probably not to distant when you find out what they all can do). Finishing the top of the bench will work, but there will be plane tracks that you’ll have to sand, scrape off or otherwise remove.

Good luck … you made an excellent purchase.

-- Don

View Loren's profile (online now)


10273 posts in 3615 days

#2 posted 03-03-2011 12:49 AM

A jack plane will be fine for most everything. If I could have just one
it would be a jack, not a block plane.

If you’re going to fit tenons a shoulder plane is handy, but a very
sharp chisel can substitute.

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3011 days

#3 posted 03-03-2011 04:36 AM

Richard, as Loren says, a jack plane can be multipurpose, For many years I had a regular jack plane, no extra irons, and not much else. OTOH, if you get addicted to woodworking, I expect that you LV LA Jack will have some company – how much only time and money can tell. For making case work, you can go pretty far with a Jack, and a couple of cabinet scrapers ( should set you back under $20), but as you progress, you might start falling for the full line of bench planes from 3 to 7 ( I don’t see the practical use of a 2 or 1) , and then get into specialty planes like block, shoulder and rabbit. If you get really stung by the bug, you will find planes arriving at your doorstep practically every week – woodies, hollows and rounds, infills, etc.. The nice thing about hand planes is while they are slower than power tools, they are much easier on the ears.

View riooso's profile


38 posts in 2613 days

#4 posted 03-03-2011 04:50 AM

Thank for your insight guys. I have a block plane and have used if for some time to final fit closet shelves and stuff like that, very valuable tool it is just that when we start talking about $200 plus planes I don’t want, if possible, to make any mistakes in judgment. Guess I will be buying some irons. Now that I have started more ambitious project I am surprised how there are situations where power tools are either overkill or will simply not do the job. Like a twisted board or leveling screw plugs for instance.

Thanks a lot,

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3754 days

#5 posted 03-03-2011 07:08 AM

If you continue with your current outlook, you WILL be buying more planes.

That said, I think you made an excellent first choice. I also bought one (already having a #4, two #5, #6, and a #7 stanley planes). I also bought all three irons.

Starting out working with Hard Maple on that bench, you may find the 25 degree blade dulls quickly, and if there are any knots or gnarly spots, may even chip a bit. When you sharpen it, you may want to increase to a 30 degree bevel to get the edge to last a bit longer, and then to 35 if that doesn’t hold up with the hard wood. I find myself using the 38 degree most when working with the walnut and white oak I have now.

When the grain is with you, the 25 degree is a real pleasure to use. The 38 degree is a good all-around one for most work. If you get into knots or reversing grain, particularly in open-grained woods like oak or walnut, the 50 degree blade works quite well at reducing tear-out, but is harder to push.

If sticking with one iron, you may want to adjust your bevel. If buying one more, buy the 38 (altho it is really easy to turn the 25 into a 35 or 38. It is easy to steepen a micro-bevel. Much harder to adjust the primary bevel). The 50 degree is great when you need it, but that is not nearly as often as you will use the other two. Not hard to turn an extra 38 into a 50 either.

I am a big fan of having extra irons. For my Stanleys, I have cambered and straight, as well as a backup when I am pressed and don’t want to take the time to hone, or to throw in when I chip an edge hitting a knot. With LVs current price on their irons, they are an excellent buy.

As for buying more planes, their bevel up line uses all the same irons. That’s a plus. If you buy the other two and keep in the hand plane venue, you will be happy to have them. However, if dollars are short, you have a very versatile item now if you get a couple more irons. IF you find yourself edge jointing boards, you will want the jointer. if you find yourself finishing a lot of panels, you will want a smoother. If you find you are getting into M&T joints, etc, you will want a shoulder plane or/and a router plane.

You may want to see where this adventure leads you first, and then buy the next plane as you see you will have a continuing need for it.



-- Go

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2656 posts in 3494 days

#6 posted 03-03-2011 08:07 AM

After waiting way too long set Veritas planes with extra irons were bought. After sharpening the iron and waxing the soles I could not beleive that difference between the old planes I had and the new ones. Using the veritas planes is like driving a Rolls Royce with super power steering. Costly yes, but they will out last me and my grandkids and again, what a pleasure to use.

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View misbeshavings's profile


18 posts in 2611 days

#7 posted 03-05-2011 06:45 AM

Experiences vary. My most used plane is a Lie-Nielsen block plane. Can’t imagine being without it.

Second is either the LN rabbet plane, or the old (1906) Stanley smoother I snagged years ago on eBay by searching for “wood plain” (eBay is smarter now).

What many may not realize, is that if you go Neanderthal, you have to learn proficiency in sharpening. I have used “Scary Sharp”, but it’s messy, and the same for waterstones, although both work fine. Right now I have Grizzly’s Tormek knock-off, which I love. But; if you are on a budget, a piece of glass, some wet/dry papers, and the LV jig will sharpen any plane blade as well as anything out there.

View riooso's profile


38 posts in 2613 days

#8 posted 03-05-2011 03:46 PM

Thanks for the tip about sharpening. I use a straight razor so I have all the stones and things to sharpen steel. I also got the Veritas sharpening jig and it has worked pretty well up to now.


View riooso's profile


38 posts in 2613 days

#9 posted 03-08-2011 03:43 AM

Well I got my Veritas LA Jackplane today. All I can say is WOW! What fine tool! I took it for a spin without doing any honing to the iron and it delivered very nice curls indeed. I edged a piece of figured walnut, astounding! I had the 2 foot surface flat enough not to see daylight under a 12” rule in 5 minutes. I ordered the rest of the irons today along with a scraper kit from LeeValley.

Thanks for the help guys.


View mcase's profile


446 posts in 3096 days

#10 posted 03-09-2011 03:20 AM

View riooso's profile


38 posts in 2613 days

#11 posted 03-09-2011 07:04 AM

Thanks great videos.


View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4907 posts in 3928 days

#12 posted 03-10-2011 12:49 AM

mcase beat me to the videos. Believe what he says about the differences in plane function.


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